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Iran Defence & Geo-Political Forum


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Iran Political and Military Developments - Iran Defence, Economic and Political Forum

 

 

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My interpretation is that Iran folded. Would like members who understand the potential agreement below.

 

Iran wanted its soverignty by way of its nuclear program. US did not and impsoed sanctions (selectively but exempting countries like India). Iran population suffers. Below seems like that Iran reaches a comprimise.

 

They could have attempted to arrive it a year ago before sanctions were imposed.

 

This like Hamas seems to not take a cost-benefit analysis into the equation: was the economic loss worth the comprimise being made.

 

http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21608803-west-and-iran-will-negotiate-four-more-months-gap-wide-time

 

Time out The West and Iran will negotiate for four more months, but the gap is wide Jul 26th 2014 | From the print edition

AFTER some unconvincing last-minute brinkmanship, Iran and the six world powers it is negotiating with decided on July 18th to extend the deadline for an agreement by four months. The negotiators, seeking to secure a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for the removal of sanctions, are taking a break until September. Then they have until November 24th, exactly a year after the signing of the “joint plan of action” that first set the ball rolling, to find a permanent solution.

In the meantime, the provisions of the six-month interim deal that came into force on January 20th (and which confounded critics who feared it would undermine the sanctions regime) will stay in place with a few minor tweaks. Iran will take another step towards neutralising its stockpile of 20%-enriched uranium by turning the uranium-oxide powder (into which it has already been converted) into fuel plates for a research reactor. In return, Iran will continue to get very limited relief on some lesser sanctions and another $700m a month from frozen bank accounts abroad.

The decision to extend the negotiations makes sense for both sides and was widely expected. For the mainly Western negotiating team known as the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) the interim deal has increased, if only by a bit, the time it would take Iran to produce enough weapons-grade uranium to make a single nuclear device. Some progress has also been made on a plan to defang the heavy-water reactor at Arak that could provide Iran with an alternative plutonium path to a bomb, by adapting it to a design that produces far less plutonium.

Another issue that people close to the negotiations feel could soon be resolved is that of the enrichment facility at Fordow. Buried deep beneath a mountain and believed by many to be invulnerable to attack by conventional bombs, it could now be converted into a fairly innocuous R&D centre. Combined with the enhanced-inspection regime that Iran has largely co-operated with, these are potential gains worth holding on to, at least for now.

For Iran, the choice has been much starker. To walk away from the table at this point would be to condemn Iranians to the prospect of a failing economy permanently locked in the grip of an unyielding sanctions regime. The damage to the presidency of Hassan Rohani, elected last year to end Iran’s economic and political isolation, would probably be irreparable. Even the glowering supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, might fear the consequences of failure for his regime’s legitimacy.

Western negotiators are clearly hoping that contemplation of that grim prospect will give their Iranian counterparts the space they need to make the further concessions undoubtedly required if a comprehensive agreement is to be reached. America and its negotiating partners want to see Iran’s current enrichment capacity—about 19,000 centrifuges, half of which are spinning—cut drastically. The Americans believe that anything above 3,000-4,000 would be impossible to sell to a sceptical Congress. Yet the Iranians seem to be digging in their heels by coming up with ever-higher estimates of the number of centrifuges they aim to have.

In a speech on July 7th, Mr Khamenei declared that Iran must be able to produce enough enriched uranium to fuel the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear reactor when a contract with Russia to supply fuel runs out in 2021. That translates to a “definite need” for 190,000 separative work units (known as SWUs, which are a measure of centrifuge capacity). Iran would need more than 100,000 of the older IR-1 centrifuges that are the current backbone of its enrichment programme, or about 20,000 of the more efficient IR-2m centrifuges it has recently begun to deploy. The Iranians say this is in line with what they describe as their “right to enrich” for civil nuclear purposes under the terms of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

America has tacitly admitted that Iran will have to be allowed to do some enriching as the price for a deal that otherwise constrains its nuclear plans. But it will not accept that Iran, given its record of deceit and clandestine activity, needs a capacity to enrich that is possessed by very few other countries that use civil nuclear power. Robert Einhorn, an arms-control expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington who served in the Clinton administration, argues that the Iranian demand “fails the realism test at several levels”. It has no need to produce all its own fuel because it can either go on getting it from Russia or on the enriched-uranium buyers’ market. Iran has neither the technical knowledge nor the infrastructure to produce fuel of the type Bushehr requires.

If the enrichment capacity that Iran says it will eventually need is both implausible and far in excess of anything being contemplated as acceptable to the P5+1, so too is its concept of the time an agreement would run before Iran could be treated as a “normal” NPT signatory. Iran is thinking in terms of not much more than five years, while the Americans and their partners have in mind ten to 20 years of punctilious compliance before Iran could start building up its centrifuges again. It is possible that under such a deal Iran might be allowed to continue developing advanced centrifuges and learn the techniques of fuel fabrication, thus preparing itself for a more ambitious nuclear programme after the agreement expires. That, Mr Einhorn thinks, could be the basis of a compromise.

Can Mr Rohani sell a deal along those lines back home, above all to the enigmatic Mr Khamenei? They may not even know. But four months is not long to find out.

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Iran and world powers strike initial nuclear deal
Agreement will curb Iran's nuclear programme and end most sanctions imposed on country.
 
02 Apr 2015 19:33 GMT | Politics, Middle East
 
Iran's FM Zarif and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced the agreement [Reuters]
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
 
Leaders say a "basis" of a deal has been agreed
Iran will reduce number of centrifuges from 19,000 to 6,104
 
US and EU sanctions will be suspended if Iran sticks to its commitments
 
The United States, Iran and five other world powers say they have reached an understanding that will lead to a comprehensive nuclear agreement within three months.
 
Reading out a joint statement on Thursday evening, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said a "decisive step" has been achieved.
 
The agreement, announced in the Swiss city of Lausanne on Thursday, will curb Iran's nuclear capacities by reducing its enrichment capacity and end most sanctions imposed on the country because of its programme.
 
Foreign Minister Javad Zarif welcomed the agreement as he read out the same statement in the news conference. He described the deal as a "win-win" agreement.
 
US President Barack Obama said the US and its allies had "reached a historic understanding with Iran, which if implemented will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."
 
Obama said the deal was a "long time coming" and added it would not be based on trust but on independent verification of Iran's commitments. 
 
'Solid foundation'
 
US Secretary of State John Kerry said the agreement in Lausanne was a "solid foundation for a good deal".
Al Jazeera's James Bays, reporting from Lausanne, said that US diplomats still faced the challenge of convincing opposition Republican dissenters in Congress, and its strongest ally, Israel, that the deal was sufficient.
 
"There are a lot of places where this deal will not be accepted and one of those is Israel," Bays said.
 
Obama said his security officials would be working with Israel and Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, to make sure their concerns are addressed.
 
RELATED: Iranians expect big benefits if nuke talks succeed
 
The deal will limit Iran's nuclear activity to the Natanz plant and reduce the number of centrifuges it operates from 19,000 today to just over 6,104.
Iran has also agreed to not build any new facilities for the purpose of enriching uranium for 15 years.
 
Zarif said the countries had agreed an elaborate mechanism if any of the parties to the agreement "returned to old practices" and reneged on their obligations.
 
"We will not allow excuses that will allow a return to the old system," Zarif said.
 
Mogherini said the seven nations would now start writing the text of a final accord.
 
She cited several agreed-upon restrictions on Iran's enrichment of material that can be used either for energy production or in nuclear warheads. She said Iran will not produce weapons-grade plutonium.
 
Phased approach
 
Iran's commitments on limiting domestic enrichment capacity will last ten years, with additional aspects of its programme, such as limitations on the amount of enriched uranium stockpiles it can hold, will last 15 years.
 
The lifting of sanctions placed on Iran will follow verification by the Un nuclear watchdog, IAEA, that it has met the obligations placed on it in the agreement.
 
The US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China have negotiated with Tehran for years to prevent it from acquiring the means to develop a nuclear bomb. 
 
Tehran had insisted on the lifting of international sanctions that have crippled its economy, while preserving what it views as its right to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies
 

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What and how did this benefit Iran. If everything is to go on hold, should they not have done this 2 years ago before they got sanctioned? Or is there a slight victory for the Iranians in this

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What and how did this benefit Iran. If everything is to go on hold, should they not have done this 2 years ago before they got sanctioned? Or is there a slight victory for the Iranians in this

 

What you hear in the news is one sided US fart.. This is not the first time US has made claims that Eyran refuted latter.  Lets wait and see, once the dust settles and smoke clears we will know the ground realities but one thing is for sure and that is Eyran has the technology something US has been trying to deny Eyran for last 2 decades.  Now all you have is face saving western dance.

Hafeez likes this

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At this point Iranians would be better off to eat their propoganda, including their statements for destruction of Israel. Get what they want at the political/cosmetic cost of getting it and keep your mouth shut and open it up when you have something.

 

Their sabre rattling over the last decade was use less. No different than Saddam. My point is not to empathize with either Iraq and Iran since I would Pakistan to be the only one with the weapon in the region. But they collectively do have a case of verbal diarrhea and raising profile of their programs and making statements about their enemies its intended for, without their own weapons ever being close to completion. They could learn a few things from how Pakistan, India, and Israel approached it

What you hear in the news is one sided US fart.. This is not the first time US has made claims that Eyran refuted latter.  Lets wait and see, once the dust settles and smoke clears we will know the ground realities but one thing is for sure and that is Eyran has the technology something US has been trying to deny Eyran for last 2 decades.  Now all you have is face saving western dance.

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At this point Iranians would be better off to eat their propoganda, including their statements for destruction of Israel. Get what they want at the political/cosmetic cost of getting it and keep your mouth shut and open it up when you have something.

 

Their sabre rattling over the last decade was use less. No different than Saddam. My point is not to empathize with either Iraq and Iran since I would Pakistan to be the only one with the weapon in the region. But they collectively do have a case of verbal diarrhea and raising profile of their programs and making statements about their enemies its intended for, without their own weapons ever being close to completion. They could learn a few things from how Pakistan, India, and Israel approached it

 

Its amazing what media and its power can do...  Best way to gauge the ground realities would be to do a 20 year rewind w.r.t. Eyrans nooclar program..  But then whats the point they have the technology and thats the bottom line..  The rest is all noise...

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The deal is finally done.  Iranians get their economic freedom and keep a limited nuclear capability.  However Saudis and Israelis are still very concerned:

 

 

Iran's nuclear deal puts Saudis on edge
d0c3eb8ca18907492a4b337b5cec5193.jpeg
By Angus McDowall and Hadeel Al Sayegh 19 minutes ago
 

By Angus McDowall and Hadeel Al Sayegh

 

RIYADH/DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran's nuclear deal with world powers on Tuesday will make the Middle East a "more dangerous part of the world" if it comes with too many concessions, a Saudi official told Reuters, signaling Gulf Arabs' deep unease over the accord.

The Saudis and their Gulf allies fear that the deal, by ending Iran's pariah status and freeing its economy from crippling sanctions, will embolden Tehran to step up its backing for their foes across the Middle East.

Saudi authorities offered only terse public comment on the Vienna deal, some 10 hours after it was announced, but officials privately made clear their misgivings about its likely impact in a region where the Sunni Muslim kingdom has long competed with Shi'ite Iran for influence.

While acknowledging that the deal would mean "a happy day" for the Middle East if it stopped Iran gaining a nuclear arsenal, the Saudi official said he feared it would instead allow Iran "to wreak havoc in the region".

"We have learned as Iran's neighbors in the last 40 years that goodwill only led us to harvest sour grapes," he told Reuters through a social network.

Saudi officials have publicly voiced only lukewarm support for the marathon talks, but in private have often argued that Iran cannot be trusted to keep to a deal.

Riyadh regards Iran's support for Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, Iraq's Shi'ite militias, Lebanon's Hezbollah and Yemen's Houthis as evidence that Iran wants to gain hegemony across the Middle East for itself and Shi'ite Muslim allies.

Commenting on the nuclear deal late on Tuesday, a statement on state media tersely stressed the importance of a strict inspections regime and the need to reimpose sanctions quickly if Iran failed to meet the conditions of the accord.

Saudi journalists, clerics and analysts were more forthcoming in setting out the country's fears, which are also fueled by a sense that Riyadh's main ally, Washington, now has divided loyalties after helping Iran to come in from the cold.

"Iran made chaos in the Arab world and will extend further after the agreement, and the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries should reduce their confidence in America and turn their focus to Russia and China," said Mohammed al-Mohya, the news anchor on the state-run Saudi Channel 1.

WAR IN YEMEN

For months Saudi warplanes have been bombing Shi'ite Houthi forces in neighboring Yemen. It says they are being encouraged by Iran - an accusation rejected by Tehran.

"What I'm hoping for is that we won't end up having wars by proxy in the region, that Saudi Arabia will not feel pushed to fight indirectly wherever Iranian influence is," said Abdulaziz al-Sager, the Jeddah-based head of the Gulf Research Centre.

"If Iran is determined to expand its influence, and use sectarianism as its way to do that, then I think they will be pushing Saudi Arabia to go into war by proxy."

Riyadh gave Washington only a few hours' notice of its intervention in Yemen, a sign that it no longer looks unquestioningly to the United States as guarantor of its security and is prepared to push a more assertive foreign policy of its own.

"The 'Great Satan' and the Europeans have surrendered to Iran, the terrorist Iran has proved that it is in the right and they are in the wrong," tweeted Saleh al-Rajhi, director of the Center for American Studies at Riyadh's Institute of Diplomatic Studies.

He joked that it only remained for the United States to visit the grave of Iran's late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, "to ask for his blessing".

"It is clear now that Americans are following their interests, irrespective of any historic promises given by the former leaders of both countries. Now the Obama administration is just looking at the ayatollahs," said Mohsen Al-Awaji, a Saudi Sunni Islamist activist.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have held several meetings to reassure Gulf states in the culmination to the deal, most recently in May.

The United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have both congratulated Iran over the nuclear deal but in private they also remain wary. Oman, which brokered talks in 2013 that ultimately led to the deal, called it a "historic win-win".

(Additional reporting by Taghreed Almadani and Sandy Azmy; Editing by William Maclean and Gareth Jones)

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Posted · Report post

Not sure what the ideal situation for the Saudis would be.  Iran cannot be shackled indefinitely and the Iranian Mullah party is also dug in for the long term.  I think some sort of a detente between the Saudis and Iranians would need to be arrived at.  Unfortunately with the economic sanctions being lifted, Iran would be more emboldened to assist proxies around the region including in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere.

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The Iranian deal has far reaching consequence for Pakistan.

 

I personally don't think Iran will keep its end of the deal but the moment they'll achieve some type of economic assurances they will revert back to their nuclear weaponization program.

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The Iranian deal has far reaching consequence for Pakistan.

 

Could you elaborate on this?

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I think if Iran doesn't stick with its end of the bargain it will have extreme consequences. Why is Israel against this deal and is creating such a public uproar? Because Israel can and will take unilateral action against Iran irrespective of any agreements with P5 countries. Think of this - by opposing this deal basically Israel is saying that it does not recognise this deal. And when it does not recognise this deal it can take any action deemed necessary. So if Iran thinks that it has been let loose than Iran is in for a big surprise.

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However, there is only so much that Israel can do.  The Iranian program, unlike Iraq's, is spread across their country.  Some of the sites are very hard to penetrate and Iran has some counter measures in place.  Secondly for Israelis to be able to significantly degrade this program, they would need some type of a sustained campaign.  The distance to Iran, lack of sufficient IFR platforms, exposing them to foreign air spaces to be able to sustain the fleet and simply the large enough size of the needed strike package are pretty daunting challenges to overcome.  While I do not put the attempt past Israeli capabilities, howevr lacking direct operational support from the US for such a strike would lead to limited damage to the Iranian program and push the latter to accelerate it.

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Posted · Report post

What impact will such a deal have on Pakistan? A gas pipeline in the medium term and perhaps?

ndad

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Major protest against Iranian president Rouhani occurs outside U.N. Building in New York
 
The United States Department of State,considers Iran to be the leading global state sponsor of terrorism.
 
Thousands of Iranian-Americans gathered on Tuesday outside the U.N. Building to condemn the terrorist attacks in New York City and New Jersey and to protest the visit of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani.
 
The protest took place on the opening day of the U.N. General Assembly. According to the Organization of Iranian-American Communities (OIAC), the demonstrators are protesting Rouhani’s visit, demanding a halt to executions in Iran, and urging the prosecution of the regime’s leaders.
 
Similar protests have taken place in Europe during the visit of senior Iranian officials. Demonstrators typically urge the host countries’ governments to confront the incompatibility between Iran’s abysmal human rights record and western values of liberty and democracy.
 
The United States Department of State, for example, considers Iran to be the leading global state sponsor of terrorism, citing its support of Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria and its role in the prolongation of the devastating civil war in that country. Many Syrians were present at Tuesday’s rally.
 
Domestically, Iran has also continued to have the world’s highest rate of execution per capita, with 2,500 Iranians being hanged during the presidency of Hassan Rouhani (he took office in 2013). Rouhani, who ran on a reformist platform, has sought to present a different face of Iran in diplomatic relations, but human rights problems in Iran have persisted.
 
Major protests of Iranians in western countries have coincided with the publication of an audio tape revealing the extent of the Iranian government’s complicity in the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in Iran.
 
Although Iran’s direct involvement in the executions had already been established, the release of the audio tape has generated renewed interest in the events during a time when Iran is less capable of controlling its citizen’s use of social media to discuss political events. Many senior officials who held office during the 1988 massacre are still in office today.
 
Former Senator of Connecticut Joe LiebermanPastor Saeed Abidini, and Sir Geoffrey Robertson, President of the UN Special Court for Sierra Leone, are among those who will speak at the event. They will be joined by many young Iranian-Americans.
 
Although their efforts may not prevent similar encounters from happening in the future, the demonstrators hope that by continuing to draw attention to Iran’s actions, they will either further isolate Iran on the international scene or force it to address its human rights abuses. Whether they will accomplish their goal remains to be seen.
 

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4 Ways Iran Could Wage a Deadly War Against America

As in 4 killer weapons...

Submarines would be invaluable for Iran were it to try and close the Strait of Hormuz. As the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has explained , “In the confined and shallow waters of the Arabian Gulf, the ability to deploy submarines effectively threatens surface vessels that are channeled into narrow Sea Lines of Communication.” These narrow SLOCs force military and commercial ships to travel predictable routes, making them easy prey for submarines.

With the possible exception of North Korea, no country in the post–Cold War era has sought to challenge the United States as much as Iran. From the Middle East to Central Asia to Latin America, Tehran has never missed an opportunity to antagonize the U.S. and limit its influence.

This is an inherently risky strategy. Not only has the U.S. encircled Iran with military bases on all sides, but America’s military spending in recent years has been twice the size of Iran’s entire GDP. In any conventional military conflict, Iran wouldn’t stand a chance against the U.S. armed forces.

 

To compensate, Iran pursues a deterrent-based military doctrine premised on three types of capabilities: an expansive ballistic missile arsenal, asymmetric naval warfare (particularly the threat of closing down the Strait of Hormuz), and ties to non-state militant groups. Although many weapon systems go into implementing this doctrine, five capabilities are particularly crucial:

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Sejjil Missile

Related

The most blunt instrument in Iran’s military doctrine is its large inventory of ballistic missiles. Of these, the Shahab family of ballistic missiles, which are based on North Korean designs, are the best known.

(This first appeared in 2015.)

The Sejjil-1 (and its successor, the Sejjil-2) should be the most feared, however. The Sejjil-1 is a two-stage, medium range surface-to-surface ballistic missile that Iran first tested in 2008. Unlike the Shahab missiles, the Sejjil-1 missile is solid-fueled, greatly reducing its launch time while enhancing its mobility.

In Congressional testimony in November 2009, then U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that the “The [Sejjil] missile will have a range of approximately 2,000 to 2,500 kilometers.” This is consistent with the ranges given by Iranian officials like Defense Minister Brigadier General Mustafa Mohammad. At this range, the Sejjil-1 can deliver a 750 kg payload to Israel and even parts of southeastern Europe. It is widely believed that this could someday be a nuclear payload.

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The Sejjil-2 was first tested in 2009 and is likely still under development. According to Global Security , “The Sejjil-2 has an demonstrated range capability of 2,510 kilometers with its 650 kilogram tri-conic warhead re-entry vehicle design. It can also carry a 1,000 kilogram warhead to 2,000 kilometers.” The Sejjil-2’s biggest advancement is in accuracy, something Iranian ballistic missiles have traditionally lacked. Iranian defense officials have said that compared with the Sejjil-1, the Sejjil-2 is “equipped with a new navigation system as well as precise and sophisticated sensors.”

Ghadir-class midget submarines

Perhaps Iran’s greatest deterrent threat is its ability to threaten oil shipments in the Strait of Hormuz, which roughly 20 percent of global oil supplies must transverse on their way to markets. Indeed, according to some estimates , the U.S. has spent some $8 trillion protecting the Strait of the Hormuz since 1976.

Submarines would be invaluable for Iran were it to try and close the Strait of Hormuz. As the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has explained , “In the confined and shallow waters of the Arabian Gulf, the ability to deploy submarines effectively threatens surface vessels that are channeled into narrow Sea Lines of Communication.” These narrow SLOCs force military and commercial ships to travel predictable routes, making them easy prey for submarines.

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Iran has a number of different types of submarines , but its growing fleet of 150-ton Ghadir-class (Qadir/Khadir) midget submarines would be especially deadly in any conflict. A variant of the North Korean Yugo and Sango-class submarines, the small size and acoustic signature of the Ghadir-class make them especially hard to detect and track. Each sub packs two 533-mm tubes for firing torpedoes, is capable of laying mines and, according to Iranian media outlets, could be used to transport and insert special forces into enemy territory.

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The subs are not of particularly high quality, but, as is often the case with Iranian naval capabilities, quantity matters. Iran has at least twenty Ghadir-class subs compared to less than a handful of its other types of submarines. These numbers are crucial for how Iran would use the Ghadir-class subs in any conflict. As Chris Harmer, an expert on Iran’s military at the ISW, explained to me in 2013, “The quietest submarine in the world is one that rests on a sandy seabed. That is how the Iranians would use the Ghadir—get it out of port, sink to the bottom of the shallow Persian Gulf, rest on the sandy bottom, and wait for a target to come to it.”

Khalij-e Fars Missile

The Khalij-e Fars anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) is another valuable component of Iran’s asymmetric naval capabilities.

Often called Iran’s “ carrier-killer,” the Khalij-e Fars (Persian Gulf) is a is a solid-fuel, supersonic Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile (ASBM) with a range of 300 km when carrying a 650-kg payload. It is based on the Fateh-110, a single-stage solid-propellant, surface-to-surface missile that Iran first tested in 2002 (The Fateh-100 is based off of the China-made DF-11A).

 

Iranian media outlets have described the Khalij-e Fars as the “most advanced and most important missile of the IRGC Navy” and said, “the distinctive feature of the missile lies in its supersonic speed and trajectory. While other missiles mostly traverse at subsonic speeds and in cruise style, the Persian Gulf moves vertically after launch, traverses at supersonic speeds, finds the target through a smart program, locks on the target and hit it.”

The Khalij-e Fars was first tested in 2011 and has been tested regularly ever since. Iran claimed that the second test of the ASBM in July 2012 hit a moving vessel with a 30-meter precision rate. The following year, Brigadier General Amir-Ali Hajizadeh, Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) Aerospace Division, claimed that Iran had increased the missile’s precision from 30 meters to 8.5 meters.

 

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Related

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Many foreign experts have been skeptical of these claims. Chris Harmer, the Iran military expert at ISW, told me at the time of Hajizadeh’s announcement that “We do not know, in open source, the exact performance specifications of Iranian missiles. This applies equally to ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and anti-ship missiles, of both the ballistic and cruise missile varieties.”

Iran’s intentions with its “carrier-killer” are more transparent; Fars News Agency , which is close to the IRGC, bluntly stated the missile is “designed to destroy targets and hostile forces at sea.” Deputy Defense Minister General Majid Bokayee similarly boasted that “we witnessed the US naval fleets' retreat in the Persian Gulf after the first test on the missile.”

Hezbollah

At the time, the decision to send IRGC officials to Lebanon in the early 1980s to help foment resistance to Israel’s occupation reeked of revolutionary fanaticism. Not only had Iran not traditionally exercised influence in Lebanon, but it was locked in a life and death struggle with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Domestically, the country was also still reeling from the aftermath of the 1979 revolution.

With the benefit of hindsight, the decision to infiltrate Lebanon seems like pure strategic genius, as Hezbollah has been the gift that just keeps giving for Iran. Time and again Hezbollah has proven to be the most versatile and usable “weapon of war” in Iran’s arsenal. And it isn’t even close.

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Oftentimes, Iran has used Hezbollah to carry out traditional terrorist attacks like the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which killed eighty-five people and injured scores of others. Indeed, Hezbollah’s greatest value to Iran may be its operational reach. Whereas Tehran’s Qud Forces have often struggled to execute attacks outside of the Middle East, Hezbollah has shown no such limitations. For example, in early 2012, Iranian operatives working for the Qud Forces tried to attack Israeli targets in places like India, Georgia, Thailand and Kenya in retaliation for Israel’s suspected assassinations of Iranian scientists. In each case, the Iranian operatives botched the attacks, sometimes embarrassing themselves in the process (Iran’s alleged attempt to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the United States was also a comical failure.) Following the Quds Forces’ botched attempts, Iran turned to Hezbollah, whichsuccessfully attacked Israeli tourists in Bulgaria.

Hezbollah’s utility to Iran has increasingly gone beyond traditional terrorist attacks. Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Iran used Hezbollah to train Iraqi Shi’a militant groups. There have also been reports that Hezbollah militants have helped train Houthi rebels in Yemen, who have overrun most of the capital city of Sanaa in recent weeks. Most notably, Hezbollah has been indispensable in propping up the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria since 2011.

Zachary Keck is the former managing editor of the National Interest 

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